He’s one of the most respected actors of our generation and, in recent years, a purveyor of stomach-holding silliness and cult-character hero-worship – and in August Sir Patrick Stewart will be visiting Cardiff to star opposite his great friend, Sir Ian McKellen, in the Harold Pinter play, No Man’s Land.
Speaking to Wales Online, Stewart touched on his lengthy acting career, revisiting the Gower and the sad loss of young Star Trek actor, Anton Yelchin, who died in a tragic car accident two weeks ago.
The 75-year-old actor from Yorkshire, famous for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but known worldwide for his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies .
Lately he’s been making us laugh in the Starz comedy Blunt Talk and, of course, in American Dad as Avery Bullock.
No Man’s Land won’t be the first time that the Olivier Award winner treads the boards in Wales: “I came to Cardiff with the Royal Shakespeare Company about 45 years ago with both Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, and in 2001 was given an honorary degree by Cardiff University.”
But it’s the Gower that really holds Welsh memories for the actor.
He said: “There was a time when my children, Daniel and Sophia, were younger we would spend summer holidays on the Gower, we would go year after year. I’m hoping for a little scenic trip one morning when I am in Wales.”
The Welsh coastline will certainly be a change from Stewart’s recent temporary home – the set of the unnamed second sequel to X-Men offshoot, Wolverine , which will be his final appearance as wheelchair-bound telepathic genius, Charles Xavier.
“I just finished up filming my last contributions in the past few weeks in Mississippi and then in February and March we start on the promotional tour.”
His last big screen outing, Green Room, in which he starred as a terrifying white supremacist who goes to battle with a young punk band, also starred the late Anton Yelchin who died on June 19 after a freak accident involving his own car at home.
Stewart said: “He had become a great friend, I remember getting a phone call early on the Sunday afternoon…”
Yelchin was a rising star who was a hit as Chekov in the new Star Trek movies and Stewart laments that the 27-year-old had so much more to give.
“It’s a great, great loss to the acting profession,” he added.
Despite being a global force in the acting profession, Stewart still values the importance of bringing Broadway and West End quality performances to the regions, hence the Cardiff visit.
“My good friend Ian loves touring, he believes it’s a duty we have to take great works of art around the regions,” he explained.
“We are both northerners and growing up and my first experience of quality theatre was touring productions pre or post West End. Ian feels very strongly that we have a responsibility to tour, and there are people who might not be able to make a trip to London.”
No Man’s Land is about a wealthy writer called Hirst who invites dishevelled poet Spooner to his Hampstead mansion. Stewart will play Hirst, and McKellen, Spooner.
He added: “We are so excited about being there – we will do our best for Cardiff!”
No Man’s Land is at The New Theatre in Cardiff from August 29.